Distribution Best Practices to Accelerate Sales Growth
- Distribution best practices show how to grow customer acquisitions most effectively. They shift unsupported ideas that lack predictable outcomes to prescriptive guidance that achieves forecasted results. Industry research and evidence-based methods take the guesswork out of growing customer acquisitions.
- Three distribution and CPG best practices to increase customer acquisitions are a sale methodology, salesforce automation software and revenue engineering.
- A sale methodology is a prescriptive but dynamic framework of sales strategies, tactics and responses. These frameworks aid the buyer in completing their purchase decision, systemically and predictably advance the sales cycle, and maximize the sellers win rate.
- Salesforce automation software brings process automation, information reporting and scale to sales execution. Research shows the most effective sales software initially focuses on user benefits such as staff productivity and performance goals.
- Revenue Engineering depicts the company's revenue progression in a Lead-to-Revenue sales funnel. The funnel shows the sales stages, conversions and velocity for all leads as they traverse the sales cycle. It displays real-time revenue visibility and date-based predictability. And it permits What-If analysis, pro forma modeling or the manipulation of leads with sales and marketing programs to improve and accelerate customer acquisitions.
Sales recommendations without supporting data are just somebody's opinion.
A smarter approach is to apply evidence-based CPG and distribution best practices. These methods are validated by industry research, include prescriptive frameworks, leverage technology automation, and have purpose-built measurement systems (i.e., metrics and dashboards.)
Applying proven and prescriptive sales methods for Wholesale Distributors and Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies increases focus, saves time, lowers risk, and shows the most direct route to year over year revenue growth. These methods also improve revenue plan attainment, salesforce quota attainment and the salesforce opportunity win rate.
CPG and Distribution Best Practices to Grow Customer Acquisitions
There is no single best method to grow customer acquisitions. But there are distributor and CPG best practices that maximize lead to revenue conversions and top line revenue growth. Here are three of those methods.
Start with a Sale Methodology
A selling methodology changes the focus from what you sell to how you sell. It recommends the methods or techniques to advance prospects within each step of the sales process.
For example, it defines the investigative questions to qualify a lead, the path to align buyer pain with distributor benefits, the strategy to create an effective win plan, the negotiation methods to preserve revenue, the incentives to get the deal closed and many other tactics to win competitive deals.
To achieve repeatable and predictable sales success, the methodology must promote specific principals that:
- Show how to navigate the customers' buy cycle and lead to a predictable outcome
- Show how to solve buyer problems with buyer insights, unique perspectives and points of view (POV)
- Deliver the right answer, content, recommendation, or response to the right buyer role at the right time
- Identify roles and responsibilities for team selling coordination and effectiveness
- Seamlessly integrate with a multiple step, repeatable sales process
- Support guided selling and deliver contextual next-best-action recommendations
- Apply metrics to measure progress and quickly identify variances or red flags that need swift remediation
- Use a knowledgebase to store post-sales results and analysis so lessons learned can be delivered to similar future sale opportunities
- Use closed loop reporting to deliver real-time alerts, predictive analytics and sales coaching opportunities
Sales performance research findings published in the Sales Excellence Report found that sellers with optimized sale methodologies achieve an 11% higher sales win rate than those with informal sales methods.
The research also found that sales success is further boosted when a sale methodology is integrated with a structured sales process and industry specific distribution CRM software. These three components create the sales trifecta and increase sales win rates 6% above sale methodologies alone.
Apply Salesforce Automation Software
Distribution and CPG company sellers pursue multiple complex sale opportunities in parallel over extended periods. Sales technology can help manage those pursuits.
The previously referenced sales software research also found that Sales Force Automation (SFA) software, often called a Sales Cloud and normally a component of a CRM suite, was scored as the most effective sales software application by salespeople.
However, when the data was filtered by sales performance archetype it identified some unforeseen results. Most sales force automation systems were rated as both effective and ineffective by large numbers of respondents.
When correlating the data with other respondent factors such as those that identified using sales strategies, it became clear that the technology effectiveness was less about the technology and more about how it was designed and implemented.
The data suggested three factors that explain why some salesforces make incredible gains with technology while others struggle.
- The research found that the top performers applied an active technology strategy to plan, procure and measure their sales software applications 4.5 times more often than the lower performing cohorts. When the data correlated respondents that applied a technology strategy with user adoption, it found that those with technology strategies achieved 30% higher user adoption and 6% lower total cost of ownership (TCO), on average, when compared to those without.
- The research revealed that resourcing impacted technology effectiveness. 84% of the Best-in-Class cohort invested in dedicated sales resources to manage their sales technologies. That was 2.58 times more than the combined group of Medians and Laggards.
- And finally, the data reinforced that you cannot manage what you cannot measure. While only 19% of all respondents consistently measured the ROI for their sales software investments, a whopping 68% of that cohort was the Best-in-Class archetype. That's a 4.6 times difference between the top performers and their lower performing peers.
The data-driven insights are clear.
Salesforce automation software designed as little more than a sale opportunity management system will deliver little more than a sales forecast report. That doesn't help salespeople be more productive or close more deals.
However, as shown by the top performers, the technology can be used for buyer insights, guided selling, integrated sale methodologies, automated sales processes, sales win plans, strategic account management, sales coaching and other capabilities to help sellers sell more.
When SFA software was designed pursuant to a strategy that applied these more advanced capabilities, the application empowered the salesforce to be more successful.
When sales software is acquired pursuant to a strategy that aligns technology with sales objectives, it creates a competitive advantage as it defines how technologies will be used to acquire, grow, and retain more customers.
Use Revenue Engineering to Make Revenue Results Deterministic
Many distributors don't know what actions drive the biggest revenue impact. So, they guess or hypothesize and generally focus on one area at a time, hoping it's the most effective area. It's usually not.
Research shows a majority of the Best-in-Class cohort achieved the highest distribution industry growth by using revenue engineering to plot the most effective route to increased revenues. In fact, they do it 4.1 times more frequently than the combined average of Medians and Laggards.
Here's how they do it.
Revenue engineering applies a dynamic revenue model that measures the Lead-to-Revenue progression. The model is displayed as a sales conversion funnel that shows each sales stage, the volume of leads and opportunities in each stage, and the conversion and duration metrics between stages.
It shows how and how many leads traverse from the top of the funnel to the bottom. This visualization permits interactive modeling to show how different sales or marketing programs will impact lead conversions and sales cycle velocity.
The model brings visibility, predictability, and deterministic engineering to revenue generation.
When the lead to revenue funnel is applied in reverse it can start with a slated sales projection and then show exactly how many leads need to go into the top of the funnel to achieve that sales target.
Because you know your lead-to-revenue conversion rate and velocity, you know exactly what must go into the top of the funnel to get the desired revenue out the bottom by a specified date.
The model calculates the sales stage conversions and durations of leads and opportunities pursuant to many variables such as opportunity type, customer type, salesperson, geography and line of business. That allows it to identify stalled leads, illustrate the factors that impede or accelerate lead progress, and show the levers that will improve or optimize funnel throughput and top line revenue growth.
Sellers often incur moderate to long sales cycles. So, bringing visibility and applying levers to improve sale opportunities in the funnel will increase sales win rates, customer acquisitions and top line revenue growth.
A sale methodology, salesforce automation technology and revenue engineering are three high impact evidence-based methods that can be applied to increase customer acquisitions.
Other methods include predictable sales processes, sales playbooks, sales win plans, strategic pricing, AI for distribution, sales and marketing alignment, sales coaching, sales enablement technologies, and sales technology stacks to name a few.
The most helpful methods for any given distributor will depend upon the company's baseline performance and target goals. They will also be forecasted and validated with a predictive analytics model.
The takeaway point is that distribution and CPG best practices are effective roadmaps to acquire more customers more effectively. They provide prescriptive guidance to forecasted results and share lessons that save time, reduce investment and minimize risk.
If you are looking to apply distribution best practices to accelerate sales growth, we have some options to help.